IMO to develop voluntary safety audit scheme for member countries
Member states of the International Maritime Organization have adopted a resolution to develop a voluntary audit scheme on the enforcement of vessel safety standards.
At the assembly of the IMO, member countries asked the IMO council, the executive body of the United Nations maritime safety organization, to develop procedures and other modalities for the implementation of the audit scheme, as a matter of priority. The IMO member state audit scheme will be implemented on a voluntary basis.
The IMO assembly met on Nov. 24-Dec. 5 in London, and was attended by about 1,000 international delegates.
“The proposed IMO member state audit scheme will be designed to help promote maritime safety and environmental protection by assessing how effectively member states implement and enforce relevant IMO convention standards, and by providing them with feedback and advice on their current performance,” the IMO said in a statement.
It is not clear whether states with a poor enforcement record will volunteer to be audited. However, Lee Adamson, spokesman for the IMO, said that a number of member states are expected to adopt the scheme, which will help identify weak spots in enforcement and ways to address them.
The IMO assembly also adopted guidelines on places of refuge for ships in need of assistance and guidelines on ship recycling.
The guidelines on places of refuge for ships in need of assistance are intended for use when a ship is in need of assistance, but the safety of life is not involved. “Where the safety of
life is involved, the provisions of the Search And Rescue Convention should continue to be followed,” the IMO said.
Lax enforcement of safety standards by certain flags is widely seen as one of the main causes of the problem of sub-standard ships.
The IMO recognized that bringing a ship in need of assistance into a place of refuge near a coast may endanger the coastal state, both economically and from the environmental point of view. This means that “local authorities and populations may strongly object to the operation,” the IMO said.
“Therefore, granting access to a place of refuge could involve a political decision which can only be taken on a case-by-case basis,” the IMO commented. “In so doing, consideration would need to be given to balancing the interests of the affected ship with those of the environment.”